Productivity Tips to Build Your Business

by Claire Tompkins

Self-employed folks usually love the freedom of being on their own and adore working with their clients. What they don't enjoy so much is the business building and "administrivia."

You could set yourself up with a 9-5 work day and plow through all those tasks in between client appointments. But most of us don't want to be tied to a desk or computer unless we have to be.

So, how do we get ourselves to do the jobs that must be done? With tricks and games, of course! Here are three that I like. Call it time management by self-deceit.

(1) One of my favorites is structured procrastination. This was developed by a Stanford professor as a way of tricking himself into doing important tasks. His theory is that procrastinators aren't lazy, they just avoid doing things that are stressful because they seem so important.

The gist of this method is to make a list of tasks and carefully place the most important task at number 3 or 4 on the list. You will naturally avoid whatever is at the top of the list and inadvertently get worthwhile things done.

An interesting side effect of this technique is that the more you avoid doing the top thing on the list, the more you will busy yourself with everything else on the list. You'd feel guilty if you goofed off, so you'll tend to stay occupied as an excuse not to do that super-important thing.

(2) Try a game of chance. Grab a pile of index cards. On the back of each card, list one task that you need to do, such as writing an article, posting on your Facebook page or calling someone from a networking event. Shuffle your deck of cards well. Commit to spending half an hour doing the task on the card you pick and then select a card.

This works because you don't have time to resist the task in advance since you don't know what it is. What a time saver that is! It also helps to promise yourself that you only need to spend 30 minutes on a given task, no matter how awful it is. Plus, there's the novelty of making your tasks into a card game that introduces some silliness to the process.

(3) A change of scenery can also inspire you. My friend, self-described corporate rebel Betsy Burroughs, recommends her technique, Park 'n' Ride. Pack up your computer and pile of work and get in the car. Set a timer and drive for 15 minutes in any direction. Then find a place to park and do your work for 15 minutes. Finally, get out of the car and walk for 15 minutes.

You can vary this by adding as many 15 minute segments as you want. Or vary the amount of time of each segment to suit you. The driving and walking portions are great opportunities to get new ideas and insights. They allow you to zone out a bit, the way you do in the shower.

The variety and unexpectedness of each destination helps open your mind and lower your resistance. You get out of your rut and feel open to new experiences.

Working for yourself can have its ups and downs. With these tips, you can make even the tedious and annoying parts of your work fun.

Claire Tompkins  

Professional organizer Claire Tompkins specializes in creating customized organizing techniques. By addressing her clients' unique needs, she provides solutions that make their lives easier with more free time to do what they love. Get her report "30 Minutes to Less Clutter on Your Desk" with your free email newsletter subscription.

5 thoughts on “Productivity Tips to Build Your Business”

  1. Conor, thanks for your comment. Thanks for sharing Richard Branson’s secrets. I totally agree that it’s easier to get things done if you feel enthusiastic about them. Sometimes that enthusiasm can propel you through the not so loveable tasks too.

  2. Cool tips!
    I do #3 often. It lightens my mood and gets me to focus on work. Sometimes, when I’m stuck on an idea or just overwhelmed with my work load, I take a break and I go out to get some fresh air. It’s like my refresh button, the moment I get back to work, I find my mojo back.
    I’ll try out #2, it seems fun and effective. 🙂
    If I could share another useful productivity tip from this article ( ); in order to be more productive, you should do the things you love and are good at. It inspires you to do better.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Billie! You could make your own Cracker Jacks box. Find a whimsical box or other container to put your task card deck into. Then, doing a task becomes a fun little ritual.

  4. I love this article and #2 is a great new idea for me. I am sharing this with others and a few clients. This information gives you a new way to look at old task and who would have thought something as simple as unpredictability could bring such excitement. It’s like opening a box of Cracker Jacks you never know what your will get inside. The 30 minute time also makes it doable. Just enough time before the mind begins to wander. I think this would be especially helpful for people with ADD.
    Thanks for a Great Article!

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